Analogies and metaphors

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    I've been thinking of ways to help explain different topics and rationales to patients. I like to use metaphors or analogies to help create a picture for my patient.

    For example, when teaching about how hypertension can lead to renal failure, I might say,

    "Think of the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys as the delicate strands of silk in a beautiful scarf. If you washed that scarf gently under a low-pressure faucet, it would last a long time. This is like the gentle movement of blood with a healthy blood pressure. But if you washed that delicate scarf with a fire hose, the tiny threads would be damaged over time and the scarf would be ruined. This is like the forceful movement of blood through the vessels in someone with high blood pressure. Your kidneys have a lot of tiny, delicate vessels and if they get damaged, the kidney will no longer work properly".

    I would love to read some of the metaphors that you all use in patient teaching. I'm especially interested in analogies of metaphors for difficult topics. Thank you for anything you share! :-)
    Tinker88, B4nursing, VivaLasViejas, and 2 others like this.
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  3. 20 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    A patient ( a chemical engineer) gave me the idea, but I like to explain that the pre-op IV fluid is a "carrier." Its purpose is to carry the medication the anesthesiologists puts in it to the brain or "chemical receptor sites."

    Patients often think the IV is for hydration because they have been NPO!
  5. 1
    Blood pressure= garden hose (pump, volume, squeeze). I guess pipes is another common one

    I know there must be so many, but I am drawing a blank.
    anotherone likes this.
  6. 7
    To someone in urinary retention, who thinks voiding small amts is OK and they don't need a cath.

    I tell them to think of a blocked sink. You add water, and some will spill over but most of the water remains in the sink. The sink is like your bladder. As you drink, water is added. Eventually,am small amount will "spill over" ie you will pee a bit. But most of it stays in the sink, ie most of the pee stays in the bladder. The longer the water sits in the sink, the yukkier it gets, just like the pee sitting in your bladder.that water/pee needs to come out. Ergo, the catheter.
  7. 1
    PS, sorry for typos. I blame cat interferance! He is jealous of the iPad and keep sticking his head in the way!
    ccso962 likes this.
  8. 1
    For pain management:

    If staying on top of the pain is like maintaining a fire, Norco is like wood and Dilaudid is like gasoline.
    elprup likes this.
  9. 9
    When explaining the Norco/Dilaudid analogy to a patient one time, she replied, "let's blow this place up!"
  10. 12
    Patient's first instinct when faced with an incentive spirometer is to breathe hard into the spirometer.
    I tell my patients to take a deep drag like you are smoking a cigarette. Most people get that. The IS kind of does look like a bong, now that I think about it.
  11. 6
    Quote from RNperdiem
    Patient's first instinct when faced with an incentive spirometer is to breathe hard into the spirometer.
    I tell my patients to take a deep drag like you are smoking a cigarette. Most people get that. The IS kind of does look like a bong, now that I think about it.
    What's a "Bong"?
    twinmommy+2, noyesno, Wise Woman RN, and 3 others like this.
  12. 2
    raising blood glucose - carbs are like matches - burn hot and fast and they are done. Proteins are like logs - burn hot and slow for many hours.

    The heart is like a sump pump. If the electrical motor is defective the pump will not function properly
    RNperdiem and noyesno like this.


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